Nearly 18 years have passed since this episode originally aired and it holds up well today. As a follow up to the pilot this episode does a great job building the development of characters that would ultimately be on our screens for the next decade.
The pre-credits scene sets up a ‘villain of the week’ theme going forward. Chad Donella plays Greg Arkin aka ‘bug boy’ who starts the episode spying on Lana through her bedroom window. He returns home in his ironically bug looking car to be berated by his mother for his fixation. As he is transferring his meteor rock infected bugs away he has an accident resulting in his metamorphosis. Donella encapsulates all the creepy elements of bug boy perfectly in his transformation throughout the episode in which he kills his own mother and causes a car crash almost killing Whitney.
We also see the friendship between Clark and Lex develop. The most intriguing part for me is the scene between Clark and Lex at the mansion. Though Lex only appears in a few scenes Michael Rosenbaum is an expert at slowly revealing the darkness in Lex’s character. Lex uses the battle of Troy metaphor here as Lex knows Clark and Whitney love Lana to and jokingly suggests if Clark had not rescued Whitney from the car crash ‘his problems would be solved’. While he professes he is kidding I can’t help but see the true Lex in this scene. Having knowledge of the series as a whole this metaphor is particularly interesting as it is Clark and Lex’s eventual love for Lana ends up being one of the main factors in the breakdown of the friendship and Lex’s road to evil.
For Clark, he is still struggling with the progression of his powers and the possibility of ‘flight’; only being able to share his secret with his parents at this point. I always enjoyed scenes with Tom Welling and John Schneider, each one bring a new lesson or piece of advice for Clark as he grows older. This particular conversation deals with Clark’s feelings of guilt about the meteor that killed Lana’s parents.
Back to the main story, Unsurprisingly bug boy chooses Lana to be his ‘mate’ and the final part of the episode does well at including Chloe in the traditional side kick role – helping Clark figure out what happened to Greg Arkin and who he is targeting. Bug boy kidnaps Lana and Clark allows Whitney to be the hero and save Lana while he stops bug boy.
The episode comes full circle and ends with Clark watching Lana from afar after secretly returning her necklace from the pilot.